Getting to Know Bob Loquercio
Most IADA members are familiar with auto dealer Bob Loquercio who is among the top 100 largest in the U.S. With an estimated 1,000 employees at 13 locations in the Chicago area, Central Illinois, and Indiana, he’s a driving force in the auto community. We recently caught up with him to learn more about how he keeps his business in the fast lane.
How did you get started in the auto business?
I learned a lot about the business by working in different roles at several dealerships. In the early 80’s, I started selling cars for a friend’s dad who owned a Lincoln dealership in Cicero. Following that, I made my way to Patrick Cadillac where I did two stints as finance and sales manager. Then I was recruited by a Cadillac dealer in Elmhurst and happily found my way to Libertyville Toyota. Then, I purchased my first dealership, Elgin Toyota, in 1996. Today, I own Hyundai, Buick GMC, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Genesis, Honda, and Kia dealerships in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Soon, I’ll be closing on two locations in Central Illinois which is new territory for me.
How have you been able to grow so successfully?
One reason is that I didn’t start growing too soon. I owned a single point, Elgin Toyota, for seven years before I added a second, a Hyundai dealership. I also attribute my growth to good relationships with lenders and investing in quality people whom I have been able to count on to work hard. I truly believe that the people I invested in became my greatest asset and I have always tried to cultivate good talent, even those without auto experience. For 40 years I’ve become pretty good at spotting loyalty and work ethic.
How have you promoted diversity in your company?
I’ve always chosen the best people for the job, regardless of their ethnicity or gender. In general, women don’t seem to have as much interest in the auto business as men, so I don’t see as many female candidates as I’d like to because I’ve found women to be some of my best employees. One of my rock star General Mangers is a female and Latinx. But we have talented, diverse staff at all management and staff levels.
How have you demonstrated leadership in the Illinois auto industry?
I was elected to the CATA in 2001, then named to the Executive Management team, and eventually served as President in 2008. That was a great year because the President historically also serves as the Chairman of the Chicago Auto Show. That year was the auto show’s 100th anniversary and it really exposed me to a long list of great industry leaders across the country.
During my term as a CATA board member and as its president and show chairman, I forged a strong relationship with IADA. I learned that our industry could not make inroads on a national level unless we had support and partnership with both Associations. We worked together to pass legislation that was beneficial to all auto dealers in Illinois which still exist today.
Another of the contributions I have made is reaching across the aisle to both domestic and import dealers. This has often been a tricky area and I enjoyed being a change agent during my tenure. In addition, I’ve been able to forge a good relationship with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, namely Jesse White and his team. It has enabled me to have conversations on behalf of the industry that I may not have otherwise been able to have. I’m a board member of the Jesse White Foundation and sponsor the Jesse White tumblers, a great organization that provides opportunities for at-risk youth.
What do you see happening in the near future?
I think that EVs are an important technology for the environment. However, because the infrastructure, like charging stations, hasn’t caught up to sales, I feel that the scale is being tipped too quickly.
I also see communities continuing to depend on auto dealerships, both in terms of tax revenue and relationships. There is always going to be a new innovation in our industry, but people will always want to come in to see it first-hand. Customers will continue to seek a personal relationship with the sales staff and service, akin to what they experience with a family physician.
Auto dealerships will also continue to invest in communities with philanthropic programs. In our company, we are committed to more than a dozen not-for-profits, including inner city scholarships, organizations that support first responders and their families, and the Navy Seal Foundation.
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